What the writing life looks like for me

Now, time for more answers … another group of questions emerged, around the logistics and reality of blogging and writing.  Do I ever feel like I’m running out of ideas?  Am I a quick writer or do I linger over words?  When do I write?  Do I write lots of posts at once?  How do I find the space/time to be so connected to my thoughts and emotions?

So … Yes, yes, and yes, I often feel like I’m running out of ideas.  In those times I will write about what I see out my window, or I’ll share photographs, or an old post that I love, or a quotation or poem.  Often I find that just when I think I’ve got nothing to say I’ll be inspired or triggered by another blog post, or by something I read offline, or by something my kids or friends say or do.  Sometimes life just comes to the rescue.

I am a quick and careless writer.  This question actually made me chuckle, because almost 100% of my posts contain typos or grammatical errors and I often catch them midway through the day with horror.  I do everything quickly, and sometimes a bit haphazardly. I wish I was more methodical and cautious, to be honest.

Mostly, I write in the evenings.  It is pretty hard to get me out of my house during the week; my strong preference is to stay home, read, write, and go to bed early. I know! I’m so much fun it’s hard to stand it sometimes.  But my kids go to bed early so I often write for an hour or two after that.  Those are calm, quiet hours that I really enjoy.  At other times I can squeeze in a blog post or a page of offline writing during the day, between meetings or sometimes when I get up early.  I guess the answer to “when do you write” is both simply and totally unhelpful: when I can.  And yes, I often write several posts on the weekend and queue them up for the next week.

There’s no question these are busy years, that most days are so full of commitments and obligations and experiences that often I go to bed feeling a weird combination of overwhelmed and drained.  I wrote a piece for Talking Writing this summer about how the reality of life with small kids permeates the experience of writing for me right now, for better or for worse.  I don’t have advice, necessarily, for people wondering how to balance writing with a demanding life and career.  I guess my only advice is : don’t let that stop you.  Sit down.  Even if it’s for ten minutes.  Just put some words down.  They will probably take you somewhere you never imagined, and following that trail is hugely illuminating.

The question about space and time to be connected to my emotions and feelings flummoxed me a little.  I don’t feel like I have a choice about that.  My emotions are so insistent, I can’t imagine not dealing with them.  I’m a lousy compartmentalizer and I can’t stuff things down and ignore them.  So I just deal with things as they arise.  This is not an ideal way to be, truthfully, because the spiritual weather changes I go through have a real impact on those around me, most of all Grace and Whit.

A couple of you were interested in the book I’m writing, on whether blogging creates momentum for it or not, and generally about its topic and status.

There’s no question in my mind that I wouldn’t have written a book if I hadn’t started blogging.  So yes, absolutely yes, writing here fuels my other writing.  For sure.  It also interferes, of course, because it’s another place to spill my words that isn’t my manuscript.  But for me, that’s worth it: I am certain my “other” writing benefits enormously from the discipline of writing here daily as well as from my now-ingrained habit of recording the smallest nuances of my daily life.

It is hard for me to even put out in public that I’m writing a book.  It really is.  Pathetic, but true.  But I can hear Lianne in my ear urging me to put my dearest dream out there into the universe so, gulp, here it is.  I have a very rough draft of a memoir about the way my unexpected pregnancy with Grace and the bleak postpartum depression that followed her birth have indelibly altered the way I approach the world.  I don’t know that the book in this form will ever reach the world, but I think it’s an important and universal topic and I’m working on figuring out how to tell it meaningfully.  I also have about half of a novel written about friendship and first love, and while I had put it aside for over a year, lately I’m waking up at night with those characters in my head.  I think I’m supposed to turn back to it, so I plan to do that very soon.


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13 Comments

  1. Posted September 21, 2011 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Do you know, I love you the most when you write like this. THIS kind of writing feels so honest and true and I feel like I know you so much better for it. Like you I write “quickly and carelessly” and yes I find typos and errors all day after I’ve written a post. Every time I say I should just slow down. Isn’t that a mantra for life as a whole? I think I’ve also told you before, I too like to stay close to home and to go to bed early.

    Keep writing my friend. I, for one, can’t wait to read your book.

  2. Renae C
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Lindsey,

    I saw a new mom last night who was in anguish because she thought she was alone in the agony she was going through struggling on the verge of postpartum psychosis.

    I don’t know whether your book will ever reach the world or not. But I know that we could use a heck of a lot more honesty about the not so uncommon pain around the first experience of motherhood.

    We do each other no favors when we pretend that every day should be shiny, happy, and sparkly. I saw highlighted again last night the pain we cause by presenting that picture because then if a mom experiences anything else, she feels ashamed and isolated instead of held and supported.

    So don’t give up on that book. Your words are needed.

  3. Posted September 21, 2011 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    enjoyed this piece, as always. and put your dreams out there. that way the universe can answer.

  4. Posted September 21, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    oh lindsey, thank you for sharing your writing process…resonant and inspiring. and for offering us your dearest dream…please know that i am holding it tenderly and with great love.

  5. Posted September 21, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Thanks, again, for the answers to so many questions that I have wondered about over the time I’ve been reading you. I wish you all the luck in the world in getting your memoir published; I think it will happen!

  6. Posted September 21, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    As you know, I think the topic of your memoir is really important. The world definitely needs more written on the subject — and by someone who has the gift of communicating complex emotions beautifully. I have no doubt it will be published.

    I know you’re in the middle of the busy, busy years with not a lot of time to write. And yet, look at all you’ve done! A wise woman once told me, “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” The older I get, the more I see how right she was.

  7. LS
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Lindsey – I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. I found it while searching online randomly, and have found it so wonderful to read. I struggle with some of the same issues you do and to see it all written out there online was amazing to me. Your courage to share your innermost thoughts online is inspiring (your blog actually sent me back to writing in a journal). I also want to reiterate what Renae C said — your book/blogging about postpartum issues is so very important. I started reading your blog as I was coming out of the depths of my own postpartum depression and when I saw what you wrote about your experiences, I felt for the first time someone really understood what I had/have been feeling as a new mother. I could go on, but just wanted to take the time to say thank you!

  8. Posted September 21, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I love learning about other writers’ writing processes and knowing your answers to these questions in particular. Thank you for taking the time to share them with us.

  9. Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I love this too – it feels like a warm cup of tea on a cool morning and gives such a sweet glimpse into your world. All of your writing does that, but this feels different and satisfies that curious part of me that always wants to know more about the person behind the words.
    I got a referral yesterday for a woman who is dealing with the grief of her post-partum depression and the fear that it could happen again with her current pregnancy. Please keep telling your story. It is needed.

  10. Posted September 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Good to know that your blog helped fuel your other writing.

  11. Posted September 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I am so inspired by how often you write and how you fit it into your day. I don’t write as often as I should – thanks for these helpful suggestions. I am going to try to write even if I only have a few minutes! xoxo

  12. Posted September 21, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I love this urging/reminder: “Sit down. Even if it’s for ten minutes. Just put some words down. They will probably take you somewhere you never imagined, and following that trail is hugely illuminating.” That is so incredibly helpful. Also, please put your dreams out there. Give them life and light. The Universe will do its thing. xoxo

  13. Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey,

    Thanks for sharing your writing process and for your generous answers to the questions posed. It helps. It really does. Thank you.